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A NEAT Quantum Error Decoder

by Hugo Théveniaut, Evert van Nieuwenburg

Submission summary

As Contributors: Everard van Nieuwenburg
Arxiv Link: (pdf)
Code repository:
Date accepted: 2021-06-24
Date submitted: 2021-06-03 11:43
Submitted by: van Nieuwenburg, Everard
Submitted to: SciPost Physics
Academic field: Physics
  • Quantum Physics
Approach: Computational


We investigate the use of the evolutionary NEAT algorithm for the optimization of a policy network that performs quantum error decoding on the toric code, with bitflip and depolarizing noise, one qubit at a time. We find that these NEAT-optimized network decoders have similar performance to previously reported machine-learning based decoders, but use roughly three to four orders of magnitude fewer parameters to do so.

Published as SciPost Phys. 11, 005 (2021)

Author comments upon resubmission

Dear Editor,

This new version of the manuscript has an improved presentation (notably the consistency of Fig. 2 with the ones in the appendices).
Both (pre-editorial recommendation) referees raised excellent in-depth points (for which we are very grateful), and we believe that we have addressed these points in the current version. The third post-editorial recommendation report is very motivating too. Replies to the referees will follow separately.

We have now also explicitly included a link to our github repository that contains all of the code to reproduce our results.

Thank you for your effort and patience in getting our work reviewed.

List of changes

Changes and additions to text and figures:
* Added sentences about the convergence criterion for our runs in section IV and in appendix C.
* Add link to github repository hosting all code for reproducibility
* Updated figure 2 to show the non-rotated code
* Updated text underneath Algorithm 2 to reflect that we do, in fact, expect to get a maximum likelihood decoder (Thank you @Referee #1)
* Added paragraph in Results section discussing the discrepancies between the NEAT decoder and MWPM

New citations:
* J. R. Wootton and D. Loss:
* Meinerz et al.:
* Chamberland and Roonagh:

Fixed typos:
* Extra “of” in the first sentence of section IV (Thank you @Referee #1)

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 1 on 2021-6-17 (Invited Report)


As stated already in my first report I think this is a very interesting and novel approach to decoding topological error correcting codes. The paper is very accessible, clearly structured and presented. With the modifications made in response to the referee reports I recommend that it be accepted to SciPost Physics. I agree with the assessment of the 3rd referee that this is a top 10% paper.

  • validity: high
  • significance: high
  • originality: top
  • clarity: high
  • formatting: excellent
  • grammar: perfect

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